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Transportation innovation helps reduce missed appointments

Posted by Julio Iturriaga

My dentist used to have this saying printed on every appointment reminder card: "Missed appointments hurt three people — the person who doesn't get to have their teeth cleaned, the person who could have taken that appointment slot and the dentist who doesn't get to see a patient at that time." The same thing goes for doctors' office visits — every missed appointment has a significant impact on healthcare providers.  

In fact, a study from BMC Health Services Research found that with an average no-show rate of 62 per day, missed appointments cost community hospitals as much as $3 million a year. While in some cases, scheduling conflicts may come up or patients may start feeling better on their own before their appointment date and simply forget to call and cancel, new light is now being shed on the role of faulty transportation on missed appointments — especially for low-income patients. 

Transportation as a barrier Transportation issues cause 3.6 million Americans to miss or delay medical care every year, according to a report from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. Compared to the general American population, those 3.6 million people:

  • Have relatively low income. 
  • Are less likely to possess a college degree. 
  • Have a higher minority representation. 
  • Are disproportionately affected by chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

Plus, perhaps most striking, is the fact that these patients rely on public transportation for their hospital visits then those who rarely miss appointments. In fact, some patients with little access to transportation may simply wait until nagging symptoms become a medical emergency before they can see their doctor.

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In an effort to improve attendance rates for their disadvantaged patients, some hospitals have developed relationships with ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft and Fasten. A recent article from HealthcareDive discusses a number of these partnerships in detail. In one such program, a Washington, D.C.-area health system used Uber to bring its neediest patients to and from their appointments. Those who qualify for the service can travel at no cost to themselves, while even those who don't qualify can still take advantage of the hospital-coordinated ride service. According to HeathcareDive, the partnership is "significantly cheaper" than the health system's previous taxi program, allowing them to extend their outreach to even more patients who otherwise wouldn't be able to make their appointments.

Posted by Julio Iturriaga

Julio Iturriaga is the manager of Sales and Business Development for Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Our team is committed to promptly and expertly managing all your inquiries and providing you with the exceptional service that you expect and deserve. To get started, complete a Get a Quote form. We will contact you within one business day or you can call the KelseyCare Get a Quote Line at 713-442-3456.

Topics: Healthcare, Transportation, Missed appointments

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